ROLAND, Ark. (KARK) — An investigation is underway after hikers noticed nearly 100 trees on a public trail in Arkansas were cut down illegally.
“There is dead limbs everywhere and these trees — some of them will not survive. Some will, but some of them won’t. It’s not right,” hiker Kay Sanders said.
Sanders said she has hiked the Ouachita National Recreation Trail in Arkansas for 30 years and was devastated to see the damage done last week.
“You don’t have the right to do this. No one has the right to do this,” said Sanders.
According to the Pulaski County Sherriff’s Office, a hiker saw six men taking chainsaws to trees on the Ouachita Trail last week. Central Arkansas Water, which owns the land through which the portion of the trail runs, says a homeowner whose property backs up to the trail contracted the work to be done.
“We don’t take things like this lightly. The tops of the trees look like something out of the Lorax,” said Raven Lawson with Central Arkansas Water.
Lawson said she has received around 50 emails and dozens of phone calls from hikers upset about the damage.
She said they believe 100 trees were either cut down illegally or had the tops of them shaved off because the homeowner wanted to view Lake Maumelle, which was blocked by the trees.
“The view to the lake could definitely be increased. The view to Pinnacle Mountain could be increased. There’s definitely a lot of nature that could produce million-dollar views out here,” said Lawson.
They believe most of the trees will die, and the ones that did not will take years to grow back.
“A lot of damage and a lot of righteousness thinking you can do all of this, that you have the power when it isn’t even your land,” said Sanders.
Central Arkansas Water said they will clean up the damage once the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office has finished its investigation.
Investigators said the man accused of cutting down the trees could face charges of criminal mischief in the first degree. He has not answered a KARK request for comment.